Monday, June 18, 2012
Revealing Revelations -Vs 1:1-3
Background: I am teaching Revelations this Fall and decided it would be beneficial for me to go through the entire book verse by verse. What will follow in the coming days is a digest of that study. I hope you enjoy it as much as I am enjoying doing it!
1 The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.
Tradition has it that Revelations was written by the Apostle John while he was an old man on the island of Patmos. In Biblical times Patmos was located off the coast of Phrygia which is part of what is now known as Turkey. The island of Patmos today is part of Greece. Located among the Sporades group of islands in The Aegean Sea near the west coast of Turkey. It is a small member of the group of islands, measuring only about 6 by 10 miles / 10 by 16 kilometers, with a very irregular coastline.
According to Eusebius, John was sent to Patmos in the year 95 by the Roman emperor Domitian and was released about 2 years later. Since he, and all of The Twelve Apostles were roughly the same age as Jesus, John was probably well over 90 years old - making him very likely the only apostle to survive to old age. All the rest were martyred earlier. (If you want to read more on the martyrs of the Early Church, I recommend "Fox's Book of Martyrs". The link will take you to a free PDF download.)
It was on this island where John wrote the Apocalypse. 'Apocalypse' is derived from the Greek word apokalypsis. It's often used to describe a great devastation or cataclysm, the literal meaning of apocalypse is actually an unveiling, or revealing. That is where we get the English translation of the Book Of Revelation (or, perhaps more accurately, revelations, since it reveals many things).
The first part or Revelation is a prologue, which is common in writing of the time. It sets the stage, so to speak, of what is to come.
1 The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
John wants us to know, just like Paul did, that this revelation is not from him, but from Jesus himself. John is only the messenger of what he was given. This message was given to him in a mystical way by means of an angel directly to John. Later we will understand that visions that John saw, he did not always understand, but that he was faithful in relating them to his readers. Compare this vision with what Ezekiel saw in Ezekiel 1 and Ezekiel 37.
??In what ways are Ezekiel's visions the same as John's?? Different? ??
The audience of this writing are "His Servants" Some who are already born and some who are yet to be. A vision for the future..exactly when, we are not told only that it will be and that it will, "soon take place".
The Lord's timing has always fascinated me. Sometimes it honestly frustrates me as well.
?? Has John's warning been fulfilled? Why/Why not? When do you think? ??
3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.
John calls people who read or speak or hear this message...and take it to heart...Blessed! Not just fortunate or lucky as I have heard some say, but blessed. The dictionary gives several possible meanings to this word. I think what applies here is 'divinely or supremely favored'. We are chosen by God to read this message, to speak this message and to take it to heart. Because, as John says, 'the time is near.'
Again we have the concept that this event is eminent. Something that will happen soon, perhaps in John's time. This is very common in Biblical prophecy. Many times the writers are presenting the message that these events will happen within the lifetimes of the audience, maybe even tomorrow. This is not a bad way of looking at the things that are predicted by God. Act as if this will happen soon and you will be more motivated to change your life around NOW rather than wait. Now, then it comes to changing your life is always better than 'someday'. The Bible even tells us that NOW is the time of salvation.
?? What state are the ones who hear this message? Why? ??
?? Again, when are the events to take place? ??
?? Why is it good to believe this? ??
?? How has this passage changed the way you think and/or act? Why? ??
I hope you have had fun going through this first part. There are very many exciting things in store for us to explore here. I am looking forward to it! Comments and constructive criticism are always welcome.